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 V.26 No.10 | March 9 - 15, 2017 

Best of Burque Music 2017

Music Box

Best Rock Band

Red Light Cameras

As you may recall, this is the band that also won in the categories of Best Band of the Year and Best Performance of the Year. Further, you may remember that I invoked the term “rocanrol” in my attempts to describe the winning flavor of this essentially Burqueño band. You’ll notice they handily won this category as well. That is mostly because listeners recognize the passionate vocalizations of Amanda Machon—layed lovingingly over the convincingly clever guitar machinations and reputable rhythmics of her cohorts—create as sound that memorably, melodically and sometimes manically intones, “This is rock music.”

2) Beard

3) Leeches of Lore

Best Punk Band

Russian Girlfriends

Can we talk? Can I ask you what is punk rock music without invoking some kinda generational rift? Were The Replacements punk? How about Hüsker Dü? On a more local level, what about The Drags, the Ant Farmers or Scared of Chaka? Does punk mean you can only have a rudimentary level of musical prowess, and is virtuosity totally anti-punk? Who the fuck really knows? But if you want to hear what punk rock sounds like in Burque these days, in the year of the Orange One and the outrage that followed, then check out Russian Girlfriends. They’ve got that Midwest punk ethos and attention to detail down to an art, they fit the local historical model and they can play—accurately, ecstatically and excellently—as any that came before or since.

2) Cobra Vs Mongoose

3) Music Is The Enemy

Play Youtube Video
Russian Girlfriends: “Bones of a Saint”

Best Metal Band

Sorry Guero

I viddyed reader’s choice winner Sorry Guero’s Facebook page to get some horrible hints about their metalness; Sorry Guero (vocalist Ray Chavez, drummer/ backing vocalist Liam Harcus, bassist Tim Garcia, Frankie Romero and Kris Schiffer on guitar) produces a form of aggressively awesome rap-rock that careens loudly and chaotically toward a form of post-Zombie groove metal that I’m sure would burn a hole in the back of my head if I gave it a chance. And now that I’ve given it a chance I feel much better.

2) Black Maria

3) Leeches of Lore

Play Youtube Video
Sorry Guero performs at Low Spirits

Best Pop Band

Red Light Cameras

In yet another coup for the Best of Burque best band of 2016, Alibi readers chose their favorite and foremost pop band by a large and confident margin, throwing props to Red Light Cameras for the fine balance between soft and hard, light and dark, and sad and funny where resides the definition of “pop music.”

2) Lilah Rose

3) The Real Matt Jones

Best Jazz Band

Le Chat Lunatique

Whilst talking or writing credibly about BoBM’s Best Jazz Band, Le Chat Lunatique, it’s cool to say something cray about cats but also something straight about using the tradition of hot jazz postulated upon and promulgated by folks like Django Rheinhardt and Stéphane Grappelli to create something new and absolutely enthralling for its dirty devotion to the intent if not the form. Jazz is the definition of all that is joyous and unbound, after all. And the quartet (violinist Muni Kulasinghe, guitarist John Sandlin, bassist Jared Putnam and percussionist Greg Williams) is one of those multi-pronged, long-lived and virtuosic outfits in this town. Given all that theorizing and after proper reflection—because you still know they’ve always resided near the top, chops-wise at the very least—it’s cool to know that such clinical assessments are mirrored by the grateful public who surrendered to those alluringly mangy jazz beasts.

2) Entourage Jazz

3) Doug Lawrence

Play Youtube Video
Le Chat Lunatique: “Bellvile Rendez-Vous”

Best Latin Band

¡Revíva!

¿Te gustaría escuchar lo mejor de la música Latina en el Duke City? Sintonice con la favorita de nuestro lectores. Se llama ¡Revíva! Son maravillosos y totally groovy, carnales. En serio, ¡Revíva! represents the next generation of Latin music in this town. The group is comprised of vocalist Chris Brennan, guitarist Jerel Garcia, bassist Glenn "Buddha" Benavidez, drummer Ragon Espinosa, percussionist Cody Jones and keyboardists Rick Gonzales and Brian Shonerd. Reverence for their conjunto-playing, hell-raising Nuevo Mexicano predecessors gets mixed up fine and dandy with political awareness, fearlessly appropriate appropriation from related genres and beyond; their heftiest effort, Change, features guitar intros that coulda come from Gram Parson’s notebook; those plangent notes get turned and twisted around rambling, trebly percussion, soulful vocals, harmonies and harmonicas that transcend genre.

2) Burque SOL

3) Baracutanga

Play Youtube Video
¡Rervíva!: “Run Around”

Best Reggae/Ska Band

The Big Spank

Weekly Alibi’s Best of Burque Music Reader’s Poll 2017 has previously determined that The Big Spank is the Best Burque Band of All Time. But you already know that. It figures the same outfit responsible for ripped out party tuneage like “Ya Me Voy” and “Velvet Cheeks” would also be voted best Reggae/Ska Band in these parts. Que viva, dudes!

2) ¡Revíva!

3) The Riddims

Play Youtube Video
The Big Spank: “Velvet Cheeks”

Best World Band

!Revíva!

More about ¡Revíva!, which in addition to repping lo mejor en musica Latina de Burque, was voted the Best World Band by our readers, too. So I guess this entry should be in Esperanto or something like that, right? Luckily, I don’t write in that language so I’ll have to tell you a bit more about ¡Revíva! instead. How about this: The band’s stated mission is to “revive justice, peace, and original music in our local and global community.” Damn good? Damn good.

2) Baracutanga

3) Concepto Tambor

Play Youtube Video
¡Revíva!: “Illegal”

Best Country-Western Band/Artist

The Porter Draw

The Porter Draw is fronted by Dandee Fleming and possessed of some of the best players in town—not to mention some of the most profound influences. The late Jim Phillips previously guided members of this ensemble as Lousy Robot. Fleming plays bass, Ben Wood has the banjo covered, Joshua Gingerich handles guitar, harmonica, mandolin and vocals, while Casey Mraz also sings and plays the guitar; Joey Gonzales is the outfit’s drummer. Together, they employ rich harmonies and dusky narratives that knit together a sense of wonder and longing in the American experience. Their ace instrumentalism is both deeply danceable and thought-provoking. Our readers say The Porter Draw is the best Country-Western Band/Artist in the area. I’ll add to that the fact I think they’re one of the best bands from Burque, past or present, robot or human, period.

2) Cowboys and Indian

3) Moonshine Blind

Best Blues Band/Artist

Felix y Los Gatos

This storied band of bad boys has played and/or been kicked out of every venue from here to OKC and north to Denver as well as south to Chihuahua too. But don’t let that legendary mythos of tequila-enhanced antic action before and after legendary shows distract from the fact that Gato Malo and David Barclay Gomez—the heart of the band—are some of the most talented musicians this state has produced. With an uncanny ability to play out and manifest the complex emotions he’s feeling through a weathered guitar while Gomez lays a wandering counterpoint to the proceedings or sometimes just follows along knowingly, the blues at the root of this act’s aesthetic comes out—rich, deep and sometimes troubling—at every performance the group gives.

2) Chris Dracup

3) Ryan McGarvey

Play Youtube Video
Felix y Los Gatos: “90 Day Binge”

Best Folk/Americana Band

Squash Blossom Boys

One of the crafts the cruel Spanish overlords introduced to the conquered peoples of the Southwest was the art of silversmithing, something they learned from their Muslim overlords before la Reconquista ended in 1492. Among the Native American tribes that ascribed to the practice, the Navajos in particular excelled. One of their signature pieces symbolized the importance of agriculture, it was called the squash blossom necklace, and it became a quite popular fashion accoutrement out here in the modern era. It’s also the name of the band our readers let us know is the premier Folk/Americana Band in the high desert vicinity we share. Comprised of Dustin Orbesen (dobro, mandolin, lead vocals), Kit Murray (banjo, vocals), Kyle Malone (guitar) and Peter Lisignoli (bass) as well as mandolinist Tristan Scroggins and violinist Sam Weiss, the band has recently added drummer Dale Blalock and singer Sarah Ferrell as well to achieve a “high lonesome sound” with a bluegrass basis.

2) The Porter Draw

3) Moonshine Blind

Play Youtube Video
The Squash Blossom Boys: “Beyond The Line”

Best Hip-Hop Artist

Wake Self

Of the two strains of hip-hop that flow through our nation and subsequently, our town, one generally gets a bad rap (ha ha) for engendering or glorifying misogyny, tribalism and violence. Luckily that’s not the kind that stuck to and got absorbed by the banks of the Rio Grande and its surrounding heavy root system. That much is clear after checking out the results of this year’s poll. Nuanced with phat beats, freaky flows and most importantly narratives that speak to social justice, equality and progressive political concerns, this year’s winner, Wake Self, produces a sort of hip-hop that turns the head with clever sampling selections, drops a leaden beat when necessary and, on tunes like the title track of his new album Malala, forcefully insists that hip-hop come to terms with its identity.

2) Def-i

3) PopeYesyesyall

Best Soul/R&B Band/Artist

Hillary Smith

The entrancing blue-eyed (well in this case, hazel) soul of songstress Hillary Smith did its magic work again. This year the much lauded torch singer scored honors as our readers’ favorite Soul/R&B Artist. Smith’s long been part of a dynamic jazz scene in our burg, leading, sitting in or just jamming with a variety of ensembles including the Albuquerque Jazz Ochestra, Soul Kitchen and a variety of projects under the baton of guitarist Chris Dracup. In addition, Smith fronts her own band, hONEyhoUSe. But no matter the configuration, the singer’s passionate and sultry style, rooted in a soul-convincing range that hovers between seductive and angelic, put our readers and editors on perpetual notice as we came under her spell.

2) Merican Slang

3) Rebecca Arscott

Play Youtube Video
Hillary Smith: “School of Love”

Best Rockabilly Band

Cowboys and Indian

Gerome Fragua, Jeff Cooper and Matthew Ezzard are Cowboys and Indian. That’s a popular rockabilly band that’s been playing around town for nearly eight years, lately expanding their reach into the desert towns out there in the wild West. They are this years winner in the Best Rockabilly Band area. The band’s frenetic, always-on stage persona, combined with sharp songwriting skills have made the act a top draw in this town. Asked about their rockabilly cred a number of years ago in this same publication, Fragua told Weekly Alibi, “We want to put together something that’s us, that is genuine.” Well Gerome, our reader’s are proud to have you represent an important aspect of American pop culture, so rave on, rave on.

2) Moonshine Blind

3) Duke City Riots

Best Electronic Artist

REIGHNBEAU

Bryce Fletcher Hample, the electro-mastermind behind REIGHNBEAU, should be seen for what he really is: one of the most important creative forces in Albuquerque’s music community. Thankfully, Weekly Alibi readers agreed with me on this one or I’d be on my way to the electro-gallows as we speak. But anyway, let’s dispense with too many words and discuss the profundity of REIGHNBEAU’s work. Hample’s visionary tendencies get plugged into media that he makes ripe for consumption. This is done by assembling complex musical and visual statements and their variations into works of art that allow participants to escape from the boundaries of time and space, albeit momentarily, and into a realm of overwhelming brightness and sharp shadows. From works like FULLOFSALT to last year’s Blood and beyond, Hample intensely represents the pinnacle of electro in Burque.

2) DJ Pandemonium

3) D Numbers

Best DJ

DJ Flo Fader

The winner of this year’s Best DJ section is DJ Flo Fader, whose IRL name is Roscoe Price Floyd. Mr. Floyd’s from Atlanta, Ga. and did serious business with hip-hop world before moving to Burque at the millenium to work as a community activist. In addition to his singularly syncopated turntableism, Fader has a deep interest in community affairs and issues, teaching his art at the Bosque Private School and Warehouse 508; recently he has collaborated on a children’s book with Burque über-poet Hakim Bellamy. The best chance you have of experiencing this stalwart hip-hop personage is by frequenting joints like Burt’s, Imbibe, The Library and Q-Bar where Fader can often be found in the DJ booth getting his groove on for the sake of funk in this high desert town.

2) DJ Wae Fonkey

3) DJ Stigmata

Play Youtube Video
DJ Flo Fader: “Aretha Franklin Juggle”

Best Cover Band

Dirty Shades

The Dirty Shades are a multipurpose, multitalented band fronted by local actor, singer and provocateur Sale Taylor. Taylor, a multilingual performer who grew up on the Left Coast and Hawaii, leads a group of musicians (guitarist Benito Bachicha, bassist Peter Meilleur, drummer Mikey Hale and vocalist Amanda Morales) who fearlessly plumb the depths for meaningful renditions of the works of other artists. There’s not a trace of pastiche or parody in their performances. Rather an accurate attention to detail, maximum chops and keen interaction with their audiences make for a unitary and essentially Albuquerquean experience. Plus their set as Radiohead at Launchpad’s 2015 Night of the Living Cover Bands absolutely kicked ass. The only caveat I can think of in this category: Who wouldn’t dig a cover band called King Shit & The Golden Boys?

2) King Shit & The Golden Boys

3) The DCN Project

Play Youtube Video
The Dirty Shades perform for Fox New Mexico

Best Chorus

New Mexico Gay Men’s Chorus

Choral music is some lofty stuff. Just listen to Ludwig Van’s “Symphony No. 9,” Britten’s “War Requiem” or Berlioz’ “Damnation of Faust” for proof of that intensity that comes from combining multiples of the human voice with musical expression. And if you get the change, please get thee to the recital hall for a performance by The New Mexico Gay Men’s Chorus. Led by Artistic Director Aaron Howe and longtime accompanist Stephen Montoya, they were voted number one by our readers this year. Their position is based on the strength of a 36-year history at the center of multiple Albuquerque communities as well as programming that includes creative interpretations of works that range from the classical canon through the Great American Songbook, occasionally veering into contemporary, light-hearted compositions, too.

2) University of New Mexico Chorus

3) Quintessence, Choral Artists of the Southwest

Play Youtube Video
New Mexico Gay Men’s Chorus: “Lux Aurumque”

Best Experimental/Avant-Garde Band/Artist

Burque SOL

Burque SOL a high desert reggae band (Charles Montoya, guitar/vocals; Anthony Gallegos, bass/vocals; Chris Cruz, percussion and Pedro Gabaldon, drums) garnered the most votes in a quizzical category that have some of us wondering just what the heck the avant-garde really is. After all, PoMo composer and cultural provocateur Raven Chacon (he of the slaughtered sheep, rifle report concertos and huge border-bound eyes in the sky) came in fourth (?!) while Burque’s answer to Gibby Haynes, Steve Hammond, showed up in ninth place in this auspicious category. What the hell, sit back and take a listen to Burque SOL’s Push Drive recorded Demos album and decide for yourself. From the opening strains of “Agua es Vida’” where a mandolin-like introduction becomes a shortened guitar flange presaging a reggae-soaked exposition, it’s obvious experimentalism is alive and aware in more segments of the music community than we previously knew.

2) Sorry Guero

3) Distances

Play Youtube Video
Burque SOL performs at the 2016 New Mexico State Fair

 

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